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ECOMAR

01/01/2007 - 31/12/2010

ECOMAR
Ecosystem of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at the Sub-Polar Front and Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone.

Understanding how physical and biogeochemical factors influence the distributions and structure of deep-sea communities, focusing on the fauna of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

List of Partners

  • Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen (Project Leader)
  • National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Pelagic Ecology Research Group, University of St Andrews
  • Scottish Association for Marine Science
  • Molecular Ecology Group, University of Durham
  • Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle

Work packages

ECOMAR is split into six different work packages managed by seven different UK research institutes.

  1. Water Flow (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and Scottish Association for Marine Science) Describe the upper ocean circulation using a combination of CTD and ADCP observations together with satellite altimeter data. These will be supplemented with Argo float and surface drifter data where available.
  2. Remote Sensing (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) Measure a suite of parameters concerning surface productivity and water properties that will be used to validate and optimise the satellite primary production models.
  3. Pelagic Biomass (Pelagic Ecology Research Group, University of St Andrews) Use a combination of multi-frequency acoustic and net sampling techniques to evaluate the zooplankton biomass and community composition.
  4. Organic Matter Flux (Scottish Association for Marine Science) Measurement of the export flux of organic matter to the seafloor using sediment trap moorings located at each of the four study sites.
  5. Benthic Biomass and Biodiversity (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen) The DEEPSEAS group at NOCS will be measuring benthic biodiversity and biomass using traps, towed camera systems, landers, and targeted ROV-based survey and sampling.
  6. Genetics (Molecular Ecology Group, University of Durham)

Tasks

  • Describe the physical flow regimes, both at the surface and the seafloor, across four sites located either side of the sub-polar front, with reference to their specific role in mixing nutrients and influencing the down-ward transport of organic carbon.
  • By remote sensing, appropriately calibrated by in situ incubations, produce regional estimates of surface primary production and likely export flux over the study area.
  • Measure the export flux of organic matter to the seafloor using sediment trap moorings located at each of the four study sites.
  • Compare the distribution and abundance of pelagic biomass in relation to the position of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at either side of the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone and to the accompanying varying regimes of primary production encountered either side of the Sub-Polar Front.
  • Measure benthic biodiversity and biomass comparing species composition with similar depths at East and West Atlantic margins using traps, suspended camera systems, landers, and targeted ROV-based survey and sampling.
  • Assess the possible boundaries to gene flow at the MAR and Sub-Polar Front and also the genetic population structure of target species in comparison with the East and West Atlantic margins. Representative vertebrate and invertebrate species with different life histories will be compared to test hypotheses about the relationship

Useful outputs for MAIA

  • set of reports with the results of each of the 4 cruises made. The reports include physical, chemical and biological data of the vicinity of the Charlie Gibbs fracture zone.
  • On line tools for divulgation and education on different topics related to the marine environment.

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